Florida Five: Obama, Pelosi visit Miami for happy hour, So-called ‘anti-Sharia’ bill is back

Five of today’s top Florida political stories at your fingertips:

obama confused

Prepare for traffic congestion for President Obama’s visit on Thursday afternoon: President Barack Obama is once again Miami-bound, and just in time for rush-hour traffic Thursday as spring break begins. The president is scheduled to land at Miami International Airport just before 5 p.m. and head to a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee fund-raiser at the Pinecrest home of former Miami Heat basketball star Alonzo Mourning. Expect some roads in the area to be closed to accommodate the presidential motorcade. The event will feature U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Ted Deutch of Boca Raton and DCCC chair Steve Israel, a New York congressman. Read more.

Thurston makes late bid to repeal Stand Your Ground: After the Florida House adopted an amendment to a bill that would expand the state’s “stand your ground” law, Minority Leader Perry Thurston filed an amendment that would repeal it. Thurston, D-Fort Lauderdale, said he filed the amendment to HB 89 before 9 p.m. on Wednesday, which he says is in time for the bill’s final reading and floor vote on Thursday. Thurston didn’t sit on any committees that approved the bill, which would shield people who fire warning shots in self defense from serving 10 to 20 years. Read more.

Protesters call for restoration of civil rights for convicted criminals: Faith leaders and ex-felons marched to the Florida Capitol on Wednesday, calling for Gov. Rick Scott and the Cabinet to reverse a policy and restore the civil rights of people who have served their time.The protesters wore gags to symbolize the loss by ex-offenders of the right to vote, sit on juries or hold public office, saying Florida’s disenfranchisement rate is the highest in the country — with more than 10 percent of voting-age residents unable to cast ballots, including 23 percent of black Floridians. Gathered on the Old Capitol steps, speakers said the lives of ex-felons are hard and that some give up and go back behind bars.The clemency board, which consists of Scott and the Cabinet, voted in early 2011 to reverse a policy change four years earlier that allowed felons who had completed their sentences and all other requirements of the criminal-justice system to more easily gain the right to vote. Read more.

Report: Pay raises for State Attorneys and Public Defenders would save taxpayer money: Florida’s Assistant State Attorneys and Assistant Public Defenders are significantly undercompensated, as shown in findings from a Florida TaxWatch research report. The new report analyzes Assistant State Attorney and Assistant Public Defender pay across each of Florida’s judicial circuits and finds that starting salaries in Florida fall well below the national average and are among the lowest in the country. The report finds that their low pay contributes to high turnover rates, causing delays in judicial processing and increased taxpayer investment in new employee training, costing taxpayers more than $15 million annually. Read more.

us_flag_florida_smallFlorida House Subcommittee approves so-called ‘anti-Sharia’ bill: The Florida House Civil Justice Subcommittee approved H.B. 903, the Application of Foreign Law in Certain Cases, on Tuesday along strict party lines — all 7 Republican members present voted to send the measure out of committee, and all four Democrats voted no. In a case of “deja vu all over again,” this marks the fourth time in four legislative sessions that a similar provision has been presented to Florida lawmakers. The previous three times ended in failure. Read more.

BONUS: Florida education spending goes up as student performance goes down

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